newcastle
Left to right, row by row, starting top left: Eisa Mousavi, Mohammed Ali, Nashir Uddin, Monjur Choudhury, Taherul Alam, Habibur Rahim, Badrul Hussain, Carolann Gallon, Saiful Islam, Abdul Hamid Minoyee, Prabhat Nelli, Abdul Sabe, Jahanger Zaman, Nadeem Aslam, Mohammed Azram, Yassar Hussain, Redwan Siddquee, Mohibur RahmanNorthumbria Police

The child rapist who was paid £10,000 by the police to help them crack a paedophile ring in a probe which saw 18 people convicted has defended his actions as controversy swirls over the ethics of the operation.

The man, known as XY to protect his identity, said his infiltration of the grooming gang in Newcastle, which plied girls as young as 15 with alcohol and drugs before sexually abusing them, was essential to landing them behind bars.

He told the Sun: "I've put hundreds of people behind bars over the years — I'm not the bad guy here. Yes, I may have had a bad past but when I left prison I tried to make a difference. I wanted to give something back to society," he said.

The victims were all females between the ages of 15 and 25 and often from a troubled background while at least one was in care.

Four separate trials over two years saw the gang which included 17 men and one woman, convicted of offences including rape, human trafficking, inciting prostitution and drug supply between 2010 and 2014.

The role of the police informant was revealed after the fourth trial ended at Newcastle Crown Court.

But the move by Northumbria police to pay such a man was criticised heavily in some quarters, with Jon Brown, NSPCC lead officer on sexual abuse, saying: "We are appalled to learn that police paid a child rapist and planted him in the midst of vulnerable young girls.

"It beggars belief it would ever have been considered, let alone approved."

However, the informant told the Sun: "If it wasn't for me I know they wouldn't have got those people. Nobody else could have got into the circles that I got into.

"I did this for the right reasons. If you knew what I did, you would think I was a Godsend. The police have admitted that, of all the informants they ever had, I was one of the best."

Racially aggravated crimes

newcastle crown court
The fourth trial ended at Newcastle Crown CourtGoogle Streetview

Meanwhile, MPs and campaigners have called for courts to treat gangs of predominantly Asian background who groom white teenage girls as racially aggravated criminals.

Mike Penning, a former policing and justice minister, said the Attorney General Jeremy Wright should look at reviewing the offences of the Newcastle group to take account of the racial element of their actions.

"Some of them freely admitted that their attitude to these girls was based on race. If that's the case then this is a racially motivated crime and the sentence should and must reflect that," he said.

Former Director of Public Prosecutions Lord MacDonald said they were "profoundly racist crimes".

Meanwhile, the Leeds imam, Qari Asim, wrote in the Telegraph, that Muslims needed to confront "cultural prejudices" that have led these men to "prey on white girls".

"Everyone in Britain has a responsibility to uphold the law and protect the most vulnerable, and that means British Muslims do too," he told the paper.